4 Things CIOs Can Learn About Application Performance from 1-800-Flowers.com
Test and Monitor | Posted August 17, 2016

We’ve all been there — it’s Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or some other big holiday and you still haven’t found the perfect gift.

And if you’re like millions of other people, 1-800-Flowers.com was probably your saving grace.

But have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? How an e-commerce giant like 1-800-Flowers manages to deliver perfect gifts, on time, every time?

How does the company handle the trust and traffic from millions to customers?

A few weeks back, I had the chance to talk to Arnie Leap, the dynamic CIO of 1-800-Flowers. We talked about the complexity of running the infrastructure to support a multi-billion dollar company — which not only includes 1-800-Flowers but also well-known brands like Harry & David, 1-800-Baskets, and The Popcorn Store.

We discussed high-level topics, like planning for the digital transformation, and the nitty-gritty details of keeping all the internal and customer facing applications humming along without hiccups. Arnie had some important lessons for CIOs in e-commerce, and other industries, that rely on keeping their websites and applications running smoothly.

1. Stability is the foundation of innovation

Application infrastructure makes up the foundation of any modern business model. This is something Arnie learned early on in his career before joining the 1-800-Flowers team. More than a decade ago, while at a previous company, Arnie decided to invest in a proactive monitoring solution to make sure his company’s website was available and meeting service level agreements for uptime.

The tool he chose was AlertSite.

“The tool just worked. I believe we were customer #7 of AlertSite and that relationship has continued to grow over the last 10-12 years,” Arnie explains.

Soon after joining 1-800-Flowers in December 2013, Arnie asked the team to evaluate its existing monitoring solution, Keynote. Within the year, they had made the switch to Alertsite. As the company continues to grow, innovate, and expand its operations across geographies, new devices and platforms, 1-800-Flowers trusts AlertSite to ensure availability, performance, and correctness across its online assets and prepare them for peak traffic seasons.

2. Always keep evaluating

When evaluating tools and solutions, Arnie explains that much of the responsibility is in the hands of his team. Team members are asked to present the tools they believe are most needed, but are also asked to defend those solutions as well.

As Arnie explains: “A good tool defends itself.”

To support the increasingly complex infrastructure, Arnie makes sure that they implemented only the best solutions available in market. And the best way to keep using only the best tool is constant evaluation.

“We have more than 75 million customer profiles. We do more than 20 million deliveries a year,” Arnie explains. “We have used just about every tool that’s ever been developed in the IT world.”

When it came to evaluating its monitoring solution, prior to switching to AlertSite, there were a few key criteria Arnie and his team looked at:

“We wanted to reduce time and resources on monitoring. That’s why we decided to move to Alertsite to continue the long-standing relationship with SmartBear.”

3. Choose tools that can stand up to your busiest days

AlertSite enables 1-800-Flowers  to monitor its e-commerce websites and applications across multiple locations throughout the entire year. But the value of a monitoring solution like AlertSite is truly put to the test during peak holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day, where orders on the site can reach more than 120,000 during their busiest hours. AlertSite enables Arnie’s team to not only measure their own performance and compare it against their historic self but also benchmark their offering against their peers in the retail industry.

“We watch that dashboard on a daily, almost an hourly, basis as the system starts to scale. If response time varies by even a tenth of a second, I know that’s a half of dozen questions we’ll need to answer. So, AlertSite is a key indicator of performance related issues within our infrastructure, especially during the holidays.”

4. The best performance tools won’t be top of mind

Whether it’s during the holiday season or throughout the year, AlertSite provides Arnie and his team with one of the most important things a company like there’s could ask for: performance peace of mind.

“From a CIO point-of-view it's very important that I don't talk about SmartBear (AlertSite) much.” Arnie says.

If they are constantly talking about AlertSite, it could be because of AlertSite issues – which will trigger re-evaluation, or it could be because of performance issues in their platform, which will need attending to.

“By AlertSite performing day in and day out, it reduces complexity in our operating file as we go forward. It's important to not be top of mind all the time.” Arnie explains.

AlertSite enables 1-800-Flowers.com to provide more smiles with less headaches.

Interested in reading more from my conversation with Arnie Leap? Read the complete case study here.

Want to know how AlertSite can reduce your performance headaches – try AlertSite for free today.  


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